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The GameMaster's Apprentice: Base Deck

The GameMaster's Apprentice: Base Deck

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Sooner or later, you're going to need more story!

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The GameMaster's Apprentice is a genre-and-system-neutral deck of cards that can be used as either a supplement for traditional tabletop RPGs or as a complete game engine for GM-free solo or group RPGs. 

On each card is a set of fourteen individual randomizers; with 60 double-sided cards, you can generate literally millions of possible adventures, all without having to hunt through a book or PDF for a single table!

With these cards, you can:

  • Instantly generate NPCs with randomized names, motivations, and backgrounds.

  • Create random events or story seeds.

  • Provide sensory details or random loot for characters searching or stealing.

  • Run games without a human GameMaster!

And more--they even work brilliantly as creative writing prompt generators, and have been playtested by 9th-12th grade students of both English and Game Design.

If you want specifics, including examples of how to use the randomizers on the cards, the complete instructions are available in the downloadable PDF preview linked below the cover image/thumbnail, but you can take a look at the overview below to see the quick and dirty version of what is on each card, and you can view a video preview from the original Kickstarter that explains how to use the cards to run a GM-free game or generate a story for a traditional RPG. This video is the second in a series, so if you want to see the first (which details initial generation of the story), check out our website, www.LarcenousDesigns.com! 

Card Overview

These cards were created with the support of over 360 individuals on Kickstarter, and would not exist in their current form otherwise! Thank you!

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Reviews (11)
Discussions (10)
Customer avatar
Michael B June 18, 2017 6:40 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Any way to get this in the uk without spending tons on postage?
I was at checkout to buy this physical deck but the postage is as much as the deck itself
Customer avatar
June 18, 2017 8:19 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
I'm afraid that the card printers DriveThru uses just don't have a UK-local printing solution at the moment. Please do feel free to bug their customer service and voice your desire there--I think the only way that will change is accumulation of interest, so they know they are missing out on a customer base!

If you drop me an email at LarcenousDesigns@gmail.com and mention your interest, I'll also keep track and update you if anything changes!
Customer avatar
Michael B June 19, 2017 11:40 am UTC
PURCHASER
Thank you for the reply, I will do!
Customer avatar
Ron H June 11, 2017 5:25 pm UTC
If I get the PnP files, what size will the cards be? And will the pdf files be letter or A4?
Customer avatar
June 12, 2017 10:13 am UTC
PUBLISHER
The PnP card images are full-bleed, so they are 2.75" x 3.75." They can be used at that size, or cut down to fit card sleeves (I use the same ones I use for my M:tG cards, at 2.5x3.5. The PDF files are letter size.
Sorry for the delayed response!
Customer avatar
Jenni W April 13, 2017 4:11 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Hi! What you've done here is absolutely gorgeous! Before I (definitely) buy these, I had a couple questions. 1) What does the PDF contain, exactly? The cards are mentioned... does that mean the PDF is a printout of the cards, or just the explanation file, or...? 2) I would like (read: ravenously need) to buy ALL of the decks, but that's a bit price prohibitive. Is there a bulk pack of all the decks I'm missing? Or a coupon? Thank you for your answers in advance!
Customer avatar
April 13, 2017 5:14 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Hi, Jenni;
The PDF files are meant for print-n-play, so you print them however you want and cut them out yourself; they have 6 cards per page, and most decks include a black and white or lower-ink version as well as the full-color version, with the exception of the Demon Hunters deck. It's a lot of cutting, though I know some people like it because they can keep the cards single-sided, as the PoD decks are double-sided. The PDF purchase also includes a download of the rule book that is available for free as the publisher preview, and the genre-appropriate Adventure Guide, which is essentially a collection of suggestions and tables for running specific kinds of games.

As for the bulk purchase, I intend to set up some kind of package deal, but since I haven't yet, if you send an email to me at larcenousdesigns@gmail.com I will try and sort something out today!
Customer avatar
Jenni W April 13, 2017 6:20 pm UTC
PURCHASER
You are a saint! Thank you very much!
Customer avatar
LAICHING X December 17, 2016 6:34 am UTC
PURCHASER
Thanks for making this innovative deck. I am really interested in buying a set, but I am still not very clear about how to use the double-sided cards even after going through the explanation in the preview file. How am I supposed to shuffle the cards as both sides are functional? Are the two sides just the same or different? Also it seems not very easy not to look at the (top) card when shuffling and drawing.
Customer avatar
December 17, 2016 1:30 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
You're welcome, and thanks for the kind words! Both sides of the cards are indeed unique (60 physical cards, but 120 sets of information), but all that really means is that you can occaisionally flip over half the deck while shuffling, or you can just decide when drawing a card that you will also flip it over. Generally, I just shuffle/cut the cards in my hands a couple times, and then lay down the top card (if I'm dealing out several) face up or face down as the mood strikes me; it's never felt much different from dealing cards from a normal deck. There's no competitive secret-hand mechanic to make you worry about concealing your cards, and there are so many that seeing one visible on the top of the deck doesn't really spoil much. Also, if I'm only looking for one card, I usually just cut the deck while holding it and look and either of the two visible card faces, and then go back to shuffling them idly in my hands while thinking/talking/GMing. It's nice, because the players never know if I'm rolling dice, getting...See more
Customer avatar
December 17, 2016 1:43 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Oh, and side note: while non-optimal if you want the PoD experience, if you want a single-sided deck I recommend printing the PDF on cardstock and cutting them out from that, OR using normal paper and putting them in sleeves. I prefer the cardstock option myself, but my friends who play Commander-style Magic are so used to shuffling 100-card decks in sleeves that they go that route (when I try, I drop the cards everywhere because they get so slippery when sleeved).
Customer avatar
Antonio M November 23, 2016 3:00 pm UTC
Do you need any other deck to solo run horror stories?
Customer avatar
Robert R August 11, 2016 7:06 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Just received the base deck. I have a hundred ideas already. Nice product. I have a suggestion regarding the physical product. The front/back images should be a vertical flip NOT side. In other words the image tops are in the same direction NOW. You should print them so the top of the cards are opposite. This allows a vertical flip. It is not intuitive to flip a card sideways. Just a suggestion.
Thanks
Bob
Customer avatar
Steve N April 12, 2016 11:12 pm UTC
PURCHASER
A couple of more ideas!

Urban fantasy a la Dresden Files.
Supers

Natural environment: Jungle, forest, desert. Stuff you would find in that locale like a passing rattlesnake, discarded refuse from lunch, old bones, etc.

Now, either we get enough to warrant a new Kickstarter or perhaps I'm saturating the genre! I guess you really don't want too many options; the generic deck has to be useful for something!


SteveN
Customer avatar
April 13, 2016 12:17 am UTC
PUBLISHER
I am a huge fan of urban fantasy, but I don't know if it'll get its own deck--especially since the Demon Hunters deck is "Irreverent Urban Fantasy."

However, supers is an interesting one for me, and I've thought about it a bit. Given that most superpowered fiction takes place is the near past and future, but with lots of fantasy and superscience thrown in, I'm not sure yet how I would distinguish that from the base deck. I could modify the Catalysts (more extreme), Belongings (Focused on super-gear), and some Sensory Snippets a bit, but what would actually make that a better Supers deck, and not just a different genre-neutral one? Maybe adding superhero and villain names to the Names field?
Customer avatar
Steve N April 13, 2016 8:00 am UTC
PURCHASER
I only just now got around to reading the comments on your Kickstarter page and I'm thinking that where a whole deck might be too much, just a specific Adventure Guide might suffice.
Customer avatar
Steve N April 13, 2016 8:41 am UTC
PURCHASER
Most all superheroes and villains still have regular names. I don't know if I would want to rely on a card for a super moniker. It might be better to come up with a name using one of the other randomizers like the elements, belongings, or even runes. This could be explained (examples of how) in an Adventure Guide.

For instance grabbing a card from the steampunk deck, it has the element of fire: Harold Spencer, the Toastmaster, shoots pulses of intense static electricity that can set fire to things.

SteveN
Customer avatar
Steve N April 13, 2016 8:46 am UTC
PURCHASER
And while the Demon Hunter deck would probably work, I'd like something with a more fae flavor... something akin to faery tales, Alice in Wonderland, and the Wizard of Oz.

I'll have to get that deck next, it actually might work well for Battle for Oz in Savage Worlds!
Customer avatar
Steve N April 03, 2016 9:29 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Aaahhh!
Another conundrum!

Right now I'm playing Deadlands and Space 1889. I was thinking of picking up the base deck as it would be useful across many games, but the steampunk deck would likely have more appropriate "belongings".
Customer avatar
April 03, 2016 9:32 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
I'm afraid that you have a point---and Steampunk is my favorite deck so far, both in content and art---but the base deck should still be helpful in those games! Fortunately for you, Deadlands and Space 1889 (and anything tech-fantasy crossed) get a lot out of 'genre-neutral,' which in practice may be more 'multi-genre' than neutral.
Customer avatar
Steve N April 03, 2016 9:16 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Oh, and I play Deadlands, also. How about a wild west deck?
Customer avatar
April 03, 2016 9:20 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Wild West and Pulp... not a bad set of ideas :-)

I might be able to put those together sometime! Here's a relevant question: Would you still want them if they re-used the Base Deck background? I would like to be able to provide unique art for each, but my artist has a day job :-)
Customer avatar
Steve N April 03, 2016 9:25 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Actually, I'd like the unique artwork. I'll wait as long as it takes!
Customer avatar
April 03, 2016 9:27 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Haha, noted! Well, I can't guarantee anything, but after I get through the last of the Kickstarted decks, I'll see if I can squeeze more backgrounds out of the artist :-)
Customer avatar
Steve N April 03, 2016 6:25 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Wow! Great idea! I went ahead and ordered the deck+PDF just to see the final product but I agree with one of your other reviewers about having the cards all on one face with, say, a plain parchment with your wax seal logo centered on the back.

Any chance we'll see a 30's-40's Pulp era deck some time? That's my particular interest!
Customer avatar
April 03, 2016 9:23 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
I'll keep the seconded suggestion for single-facing cards in mind! I do hope to continue updating and revising these, some day...
Customer avatar
Steve N April 12, 2016 9:50 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Shoot! I haven't got my deck yet (any idea what the turn around for a PoD deck is?) but the more I think about it is you're doing the right thing now. It saves production costs, which saves my cost, and takes up less space.
If you're using it for random numbers then just look at the bottom face, and if you are using it to springboard ideas then you get two cards for one!
Either flip the whole deck over when you've gone through it once and/or flip half of it over when reshuffling.

The only real problem is that as you get used to it you'll eventually start learning which cards are on the back of others.

SteveN
Customer avatar
April 13, 2016 12:12 am UTC
PUBLISHER
I tend to work them by holding & shuffling the deck a bit, and then cutting it randomly and looking at either the top or bottom card. But however you choose to use them, I'm glad the back-to-back has grown on you a bit! It's one of the design decisions I personally enjoy the most, but also worry about because I know people find it odd. It definitely kept the cost down (half the number of cards, and also half the cost of art per deck, since I only needed one face from my artist), but the most important bit to me is keeping the number of cards about the same as a poker or CCG deck, so it can be easily held, shuffled, stored, and sleeved.
Customer avatar
Steve N April 13, 2016 11:41 am UTC
PURCHASER
I initially was thinking of this deck as a draw deck where the desire would be to keep the faces hidden but I'm realizing that it's not how these cards are meant to be used at all!
I like your method of just holding them in one hand with a periodic shuffle.
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Product Information
Electrum seller
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File Last Updated:
April 03, 2016
This title was added to our catalog on January 29, 2014.